For Florida citrus crop, it’s been a tough year with large losses

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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Florida’s citrus crop has suffered huge losses this year, with fruit falling from trees and the overall forecast declining about 10 percent, but the problems shouldn’t translate to a price increase at the breakfast table — yet.

Experts and growers say warm, dry weather; too much fruit on each tree; and citrus greening disease are the likely culprits.

Some say this is the year that greening — which is caused by a fast-spreading bacteria and is also known as HLB, or, in Chinese, Huanglongbing — finally translates into crop losses. Greening is spread by insects, and there is no cure. It leaves fruit sour and unusable and eventually kills the infected tree.

“I don’t think there’s any doubt that we’re beginning to see the effects of citrus greening on the industry,” said Adam Putnam, Florida’s agriculture commissioner.

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